MacTipster on-site service offering has ended

To my dear friends and clients,

It is nothing short of bittersweet to report that I have begun a full-time opportunity supporting federal diplomatic web initiatives. My onsite availability for appointments has come to a close for now.

It has been an incredible experience getting to know all of you in your homes and businesses. I can’t thank you enough for your patronage and support.

What does this mean?

I will no longer be offering my services on-site, in-home, in-business. My MacTipster.com website will remain active and I hope to be updating it with new content to support my mission to educate people about these great products.

What if I still need help onsite?

I am currently sourcing DC area vendors that offer the same quality of customer service and expertise.

Until then, I highly recommend the Apple Store free workshops at Montgomery Mall. They have revamped the store and it is beautiful.

View Apple Store Montgomery Mall Workshops

I’m not going anywhere, I’m still around, if you have questions/comments/concerns, I’m happy to answer them. My MacTipster email will remain active and monitored, so feel free to continue to communicate through there. I will do whatever I can to help, but I am no longer offering onsite appointments as a service.

Can you help me remotely?

YES! If you need help with your Mac, there is a method we can use to connect our screens so I can help you in your home without actually being there.

I have to stress this is for Mac computers only like MacBook and iMac. This system will not work for iPhone and iPad.

Contact me if you’d like more information or setup a remote appointment. However, the times available will be evenings and weekends only.

Best Home Wireless Printer

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HP Envy 4520

I don’t often recommend products because there is just so much mediocrity in technology out there, especially when it comes to printers. I hate being a slave to expensive ink cartridges these companies cash in on by wheeling and dealing cheap printers that only last a year or two.

In thinking about most of my clients which have a need for a simple printer with wireless capability and inexpensive upkeep (ink), I found a printer I immediately fell in love with it’s simplicity in setup and use. The product is HP Envy 4520 and it comes in at less than $100, depending on the deal you find.

Cheaper, simpler ink

The HP Envy 4520 uses a two ink cartridge system that beckons to a simpler time in inkjet printing.  These days many of the featured printers that you receive as part of a computer purchase have three cartridges for color at at least one cartridge for black ink.  Although it may be helpful to have the option to replace one color at a time, the initial cost for ink goes up significantly for this style.

Setting up wireless printing

The next gripe I continually have with printers is the ease of setting up the wireless function.  Many wireless printers require being plugged into a Mac initially in order to setup properly, which is totally ironic to me.  The HP Envy 4520 excels in that it works over Apple’s proprietary AirPrint technology so that setup is an absolute breeze for Macs.  You simply go to the printer settings, add a new printer and the 4520 should be noticed and able to be added with 1-click.  The same easy process is available for Apple iPhone and iPad devices.

Wireless reliability

Another pain point, while we’re on the topic of wireless, is the reliability and consistency of availability in the home.  The other printers I have owned, would periodically shut off and then I would have no way to print wirelessly to them without making a journey to the machine to wake it up.  Kind of defeats the purpose of wireless, right? The 4520 has, to this point, been immediately responsive whenever I print to it even after long periods of inactivity.

Touch screen, print quality

Other notable wins for the HP Envy 4520, The touch screen is simplistic, black and white, and only the essentials of what one would need in a home printer.  The print quality is great for documents, acceptable for photos.  For photo printing, given the cost of ink, I’m more likely to have them professionally printed for very cheap at a Costco, CVS or other print shop.

For all these reasons and more, I consider this the best home wireless printer.  I deliver and setup this printer in many of my clients homes.  It takes less than an hour and the printer is extremely cost effective.  If you would like to get setup with a 5-star reviewed product and personalized concierge setup and training, book an appointment using the button on the top right.

Otherwise use the link at the top to purchase the printer through Amazon.  Its an incredible value and a printer, I personally, am excited to recommend.

How to Mark All Gmail as Read

Yesterday, after updating to iOS 7 most people were faced with a harsh reality: they have thousands of unread emails that lay deep in the bottom of their Gmail inbox that they never knew about.  iOS 7 changed the way it interacted with Gmail.

Before, it used to be that your Mail icon would only keep track of the most recent emails you received and tell you with a little red icon how many emails are unread.

Screen Shot 2013-09-19 at 11.38.53 AMAfter yesterday, when updating to iOS 7, the Mail icon can now see all unread emails in your inbox, even if those emails are from 7+ years ago.  It’s meant to be a benefit, but for some it will be an annoyance for sure.

There is a fairly simple fix for this problem in Gmail.  It will require you logging into your Gmail account on the web at http://www.gmail.com/ and typing in your gmail email address and the gmail password.

Once you log in, in the search bar above the list of your emails, type in the following:

is:unread in:inbox

then hit return/enter or click on the adjacent magnifying glass.

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After doing so you should see all of the emails that are currently in your inbox that are unread since you opened your Gmail account.  All you have to do is either open them one by one or click the square checkbox above your email and below the search bar to select all of the email on the page and then under “more” choose “Mark as Read”

Please note that this how you accomplish this with Gmail.  The process/method is different with other email providers like AOL, Yahoo, Hotmail, etc.  Also note that you would need to do this on every Gmail account you have setup on your iPhone, iPad, iPod, etc.  If you have multiple email addresses with Gmail that you use, each one may have buried unread emails causing your Mail icon to show the red badge.

Ask questions in the comments or email me directly through my contact page.

Best Traffic App for iPhone: Find Ways Around DC Traffic with Waze

dc traffic jam

mzl.hofwfxqxHaving grown up in the DC area, I have become accustomed to the sheer disaster that is rush hour traffic in the area.  My clients are located all over the DC area, so I take to the streets more than most and have to constantly invent new ways of getting around to try and avoid clogged highways and bumper to bumper back-roads.  I have long searched for the best traffic app for iPhone… I’m hapy to report my search is over.

It’s called Waze (pronounced “Ways”).  Waze is built on the idea that traffic reports from your neighbors are just as good as those provided by the newscasters or those little sensors that you’ll see on major highways.  Millions of people turn the app on and then drive to work, school, home, run errands, etc. and as they drive, the App tracks the speed of the driver using the App and records it in the cloud.  Not only that, but you can see reports of road hazards and even speed cameras and police sightings.  No more waiting for traffic and weather on the 8s.

Watch this short video for an overview…

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_7yoEUrVhw]

For example, when 50 people using the app are driving south down I-270 at 55 mph and the 25  driving 5 miles ahead of you slow their speed from 55mph down to 15 mph, the app makes a very logical assumption that there’s traffic building up ahead of you.  It will first alert you that you’re new eta is 10 minutes later than it was when it first calculated your route.  On the map, you’ll see there is a red band where the traffic has slowed down and, if it can save you time, the app will suggest you take a different route to your destination.

3 reasons I always use Waze to find my Ways and save money

1. I find the fastest route, every time. Since I began using this app, I ask for turn by turn navigation every time I get in the car… even if I already know how to get there!  By doing so, I can be sure that Waze is calculating the absolute best route for me to travel down based on traffic reports happening in real time.  It brings a smile to my face every time the app tells me I should take back roads because of huge accident on 270.  It really is remarkable how accurate the system is.

2. I find the cheapest gas along my route.  A little known fact about Waze is that you can acutally find a list of the closest gas stations and prices of each fuel grade as reported by other people using Waze.  If you are currently following along a route, it will show you gas stations along the route and if you are just freestyling, as I like to call it, then it will show you the cheapest gas closest to your location.

3. I don’t get tickets anymore.  Although I don’t like to admit it, Waze saves me regularly from getting speeding tickets on the ICC.  I have been known to have a tiny bit of a lead foot because I do mostly highway driving in the area, but if you’ve driven on MD-200, you know how often there are speed traps and hidden cops along that highway.  Waze alerts me a mile beforehand of any speed traps or police hiding under overpasses and allows me to adjust my speed.  Sometimes its a false alarm and the officer has already moved on, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Waze-Screenshots

Some other cool features of the App are that you can have Waze send someone a link to your real-time ETA.  If you’re meeting up with someone, it can be really helpful to let them know how far away you are and have it update them with any change in traffic or route.  They can’t see you on a map, but they do know what time to expect you.

Best of all though, would you believe it’s totally FREE?  Besides the fact that Waze was recently acquired by google for over $1 billion, they make some some revenue by showing you an occasional ad when you’re not driving.  You can sign up using a Facebook account or just remain an anonymous wazer. I encourage you to download this app from the App Store on your iPhone.

This app has already saved me hours of gridlock this year.  It allows me to stop worrying about when the best time is to leave the house to avoid traffic and easily find the best route to my next destination.  It won’t help you avoid traffic entirely, DC is full of cars any route you go, but it will find the quickest route currently available and keep you safe on the road and speeding ticket free 🙂

To any of my clients reading this, contact me and you can ride shotgun with me and see a demonstration of how Waze can save you money and time on the treacherous DC roadways.